Photographing the Pristine
Meet the acclaimed Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado in this interview about his project ‘Genesis’ - a photographic homage to our planet in its natural state, dedicated to capturing the beauty of our planet and preserving it for the future.
“I really believe that we must deal with things in a different way, we must create another model of life.” Salgado’s photography is about what he believes: that humanity should rediscover itself in the nature of our planet, and that we should reverse the damage done to it. Humans have changed the planet without understanding our place on it: “We don’t understand the life on our planet.” The idea of the exhibition is to show us the forgotten people and places of the world, that we are in risk of losing: “My wish is that you come to see a small sample of the planet, just a 100-150 pictures of what is pristine.”
Genesis is the result of an epic eight-year expedition to rediscover the mountains, deserts and oceans, the animals and peoples that have escaped the imprint of modern society thus far – the land and life of a still pristine planet. The idea for ‘Genesis’ began with Salgado becoming very ill after making the project ‘Migration’ and experiencing the horrific violence in Rwanda. In an attempt to recover he returned to his childhood home, a farm in Brazil surrounded by a vast landscape covered with rain forest and full of incredible beauty. From the time when Salgado was a child to the time he took over the farm as an adult, Brazil had, along with the rest of the world, been destroying the environment in a most brutal way. When they took over the farm, Salgado’s wife got the ”crazy idea” that they should replant the rain forest. And as they did so, the birds, animals and water began to reappear.
Sebastião Salgado (b.1944) is a Brazilian social documentary photographer and photojournalist. Salgado initially trained as an economist and worked for the International Coffee Organization, often traveling to Africa on missions for the World Bank, when he first started taking photographs. He switched to photography in 1973, working initially on news assignments before veering towards documentary-type work.
Salgado was part of the international cooperative of photographers Magnum Photos between 1979 and 1994, after which formed his own agency, Amazonas Images, in Paris, to represent his work. Salgado has travelled in over 100 countries for his photographic projects, which have been presented in books such as 'Other Americas' (1986), 'Sahel: l’homme en détresse' (1986), 'Sahel: el fin del camino' (1988), 'Workers' (1993), 'Terra' (1997), 'Migrations and Portraits' (2000) and 'Africa' (2007). Salgado has won numerous awards, amongst others The Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS). Moreover, he is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
Between 2004 and 2011, Salgado worked on the project 'Genesis', aiming at the presentation of the unblemished faces of nature and humanity. It consists of a series of photographs of landscapes and wildlife, as well as of human communities that continue to live in accordance with their ancestral traditions and cultures.
Sebastião Salgado was interviewed in his studio in Paris by Marc-Christoph Wagner in 2013.
Camera: Germain Ferey
Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Supported by Nordea-fonden